Renowned Egyptian leftist lawyer, labour activist, and former presidential candidate Khaled Ali has declared at a Cairo press conference his intention to run for president in the 2018 elections, scheduled for 26 March, calling on his supporters to collect endorsements to support his bid.
On Monday, the National Elections Authority (NEA) announced that starting 20 January, it will be receiving for nine days official nominations for candidates, and that the campaigning period will run from 24 February until 23 March.
Ali called on his supporters to collect the minimum 25,000 endorsements from citizens required for prospective candidates to be allowed to run in the race, which he will submit to the NEA on 25 January.
Article 142 of Egypt’s 2014 constitution states that a hopeful presidential candidate must secure the recommendation of at least 20 MPs or 25,000 citizens from 15 governorates, with a minimum of 1,000 from each governorate.
Ali has also called on his supporters to form a human chain from his campaign headquarters in Cairo to the NEA headquarters on 25 January while holding images of "the martyrs" and "political detainees."
The 45-year-old Ali, who is the founder of the leftist Bread and Liberty Party, also slammed the campaign timetable set by the NAE, arguing that it is too short.
"I reject this timetable as it defeats the purpose of the presidential campaigns," Ali said.
He also called on the NAE to remove all unofficial posters endorsing sitting President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi from public streets and squares, given that the campaign season has not yet started.
Ali is currently awaiting a final court verdict in a case where he was sentenced to three months in prison for offending public decency after making an "obscene hand gesture" during a demonstration outside the State Council headquarters in January 2017.
The final verdict in the case is set to be issued on 7 March.
If the guilty verdict is upheld, Ali would be disqualified from the presidential race in accordance with Article 1 of the 2017 elections law, which states that presidential candidates cannot have been convicted of a felony or a crime involving an "immoral act."
Ali ran for president in the first round of the 2012 elections, but received only 134,056 votes.
Although President El-Sisi has not declared his intention to run for a second term, over 500 MPs, including House Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal, have signed endorsements supporting his candidacy.
El-Sisi, whose first term ends in June, won the 2014 presidential elections in a landslide victory, receiving nearly 97 percent of the vote.
Former MP and veteran politician Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat also declared his intention to run for office, submitting on Wednesday a request to the parliament speaker to collect endorsements from MPs for his candidacy.
El-Sadat, the founder of the Reform and Development Party, has also slammed the timetable announced by the NEA as being too short.